DeGeest Steel Works
"Weâ€™re very excited with the efficiencies gained in the office. I estimate it saves us at least 60 hours a week.â€ť Derek DeGeest, Vice President of DeGeest Steel Works
DeGeest Steel Works,Â established in 1976, is a steelÂ fabricator for large OEMsÂ providing 100,000â€™s ofÂ different parts to a host ofÂ small to large OEMs.Â DeGeest Steel WorksÂ laser cuts, saws, punches,Â drills, taps, bends, welds,Â paints and assembles variousÂ parts that end up in machinesÂ used all over the world.
Custom Document Management Brings More Efficient Processes to DeGeest Steel Works
A wall of filing cabinets sits on one side of a large room at DeGeest Steel Works.Â Inside, drawings of over 100,000 master parts and sub parts are filed away. EachÂ one is filled with programming notes and instructions. Although DeGeest had the latest shop software, many of its processes were still manual.
â€śI would come in at 5:00 every morning and manually prioritize orders in aÂ complicated, burdensome method that wasnâ€™t very efficient, to say the least,â€ť saidÂ Derek DeGeest, third generation Vice President of DeGeest Steel Works. â€śOften, timeÂ was spent looking for missing or misfiled documents and tracking down a print thatÂ was already out in the shop being used for another order.â€ť
Something had to change. DeGeest knew he either had to hire someone andÂ train them to do what he was doing â€“ without previous knowledge of the shopâ€™sÂ manufacturing processes â€“ or find a way to automate. If he automated the process,Â he knew the most critical and challenging task would be integrating with the existingÂ enterprise shop software and leveraging the knowledge and data the companyÂ already had.
Partnering with Marco, DeGeest purchased M-Files, an Enterprise ContentÂ Management system that the company now uses to store its drawings. Using theÂ platform, a custom job build program was developed that acts as a liaison betweenÂ M-Files and DeGeestsâ€™ enterprise shop software. This connection allowed for theÂ automation of processes that once took hours to complete.
The new process includes QR codes that identify the status of each part andÂ its steps. By simply scanning the QR code, the status of the part is updatedÂ automatically. With hundreds of steps and parts in process on a daily basis, this wasÂ a significant achievement for the company. Before the process was automated,Â paper printouts had to be filed in the wall of filing cabinets. Now theyâ€™re scanned andÂ recycled, saving at least two hours a day.
In addition, the new system allows the status for an order, assembly or part canÂ be identified immediately. Managers in shipping, welding and fabrication haveÂ real-time access to data they can use to manage their work as it continues to grow.Â This reduces errors and gives DeGeest immediate visibility into the status of orders.Â When a customer calls about an order, itâ€™s easy to see whatâ€™s been done and whatÂ needs to be done. It also enables DeGeest to give instant and accurate timeframesÂ for completion.
â€śAll of this automation is great. Weâ€™re very happy with the efficiencies gained in theÂ office. I estimate it saves us at least 60 hours a week. We started out with the goalÂ of solving a front-office bottleneck, but we were surprised with the huge change weÂ saw on the shop floor as well,â€ť explained DeGeest.
As a result, all of the fabrication departments began running more efficiently.Â â€śBecause orders were not piling up in the office waiting to be started, they were allÂ in process. This meant more efficient nests on our lasers and saws...and less toolingÂ changes on our brake presses. Scheduling became much easier, problems poppedÂ up less often, and rush jobs could be handled much quicker. Our capacity almostÂ doubled with the same operators and with less stress,â€ť said DeGeest.
Unfortunately, the streamlining of these processes created new bottlenecks. OrdersÂ and parts were coming out faster than the company could handle downstream,Â creating a new challenge. This led to another collaboration with Marco to developÂ an inventory control system that dynamically assigned a parts location at the timeÂ of creation.
Some of the pallets and assemblies weigh up to 4,000 lbs., so the system had toÂ be intelligent enough to allocate a bay on the floor for the heavier parts, up highÂ for long and tall parts, multiple pallets for large assemblies and bins for small parts.Â This efficiency allowed the company to reallocate another 80 hours of employeeÂ time towards other jobs in the shop.
â€śOur company has always focused on supporting our customers and delivering onÂ our promise to be an extension of their business. Before we implemented M-Files,Â we accomplished this by working more hours, a lot of firefighting and a fair amountÂ of problem solving to keep everyone satisfied. With our M-Files custom programs,Â weâ€™ve streamlined our workflows and order management, which allows us toÂ operate with smooth and predictable processes. That allows me to focus on theÂ business instead of always working in it,â€ť admitted DeGeest.
â€śWeâ€™re very excited about the future of our company as we grow and implementÂ more lean initiatives from the data weâ€™re creating with M-Files. The more efficientÂ we become, the better we can serve our customers â€“ getting orders out quickly andÂ accurately. This contributes to our success...and theirs,â€ť added DeGeest.